(MintPress)— Despite 42 percent of the population living on less than $1.25 per day, the lowest physician ratios in the world and developmental challenges, India has obtained its first year of no reported polio cases in the country’s history. The achievement removes India from a short list of countries that have polio endemics; Afghanistan, Nigeria and […]
(MintPress)— Despite 42 percent of the population living on less than $1.25 per day, the lowest physician ratios in the world and developmental challenges, India has obtained its first year of no reported polio cases in the country’s history. The achievement removes India from a short list of countries that have polio endemics; Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan remain on the list.
The success of the campaign against polio starts and ends with the people. Despite receiving grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Rotary Club, millions of social workers, volunteers and citizens rallied around the effort and were responsible for administering more than 900 million doses of the polio vaccination to babies and children. India now needs to follow up with two more years of polio-free results for the disease to be considered eradicated from the country.
Polio camps were set up in India to organize the efforts. Many of those who got involved did so to help the younger generation grow up without the disease.
“It is an amazing achievement. I sometimes feel like I have to pinch myself to make sure I am not dreaming it,” said Lieven Desomer, head of the polio unit at UN children’s agency Unicef in India in an interview. “We have to remain vigilant and continue immunizations. Complacency at this stage would be a huge mistake.”
A far cry from India’s open embrace of widespread vaccinations, in the United States vaccines have come under increasing scrutiny for perceived dangers and potential risks. Some have questioned whether they are even necessary anymore in a country that has eradicated many of the diseases that plagued the population generations prior.
Vaccines were thrust into the public spotlight in 2011 when celebrity Jenny McCarthy said mandatory vaccinations for children caused autism in her son.
“I know children regress after vaccination because it happened to my own son,” McCarthy stated. “Why aren’t there any tests out there on the safety of how vaccines are administered in the real world, six at a time? Why have only two of the 36 shots our kids receive been looked at for their relationship to autism?”
McCarthy then began speaking out against vaccines, starting Generation Rescue, a group dedicated to the recovery of children with autism spectrum disorders.
It was then reported that an autism researcher faked information in a study that linked vaccines to autism. The story reported that dozens of other studies had failed to find a casual link between vaccinations and autism.
Others say that chemicals such as mercury within the vaccine serum are responsible for unintended consequences.
However, small outbreaks have been seen across the country that have been traced back to unvaccinated children.
Early in 2011, a measles outbreak hit Minnesota, sickening 23 people, including a 12-month old who fell ill after returning from a trip to Kenya and a 15-month old who fell ill after visiting family. Neither child was vaccinated against the disease. Most of the 23 people who fell ill with measles had their cases traced back to the child that contracted the measles in Kenya.